HVAC Air Filter Buying Guide

An HVAC air filter being installed in a Simi Valley, CA, home.

Is it time to replace your HVAC system’s air filter? If your current air filter is dirty, clogged, or hasn’t been changed in at least three months, you’re most likely due for a replacement. However, if you’re a first-time homeowner or have never bought an air filter, you might not know what to look for.

Choosing an air filter for your home can seem like a daunting task, but it’s essential to know how to choose a furnace air filter that works for you. Some of the best air filters can prevent harmful indoor particles—such as dust, pollen, pet dander, and mold spores—from entering your home. Additionally, air filters help improve airflow, so you can avoid any unwanted system breakdowns.

Follow our air filter buying guide to know how to choose a furnace air filter for your needs.

Measure Your HVAC Filter

The first essential step in our air filter buying guide is to ensure that you purchase the right size filter for your home. You can measure your filter using a tape measure to find the length, width, and depth. 

Of course, you can simply look at your old filter and use its size to purchase the filter that you need.

Decide on a MERV Rating

Most home air filters include a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) that will tell you how efficiently the filter will capture airborne particles. The higher the MERV rating, the finer the filtration, and the better the filter’s capability to capture smaller particles. However, while higher MERV ratings can act as air cleaners, they can also limit airflow.

The next step in our air filter buying guide is choosing the right MERV filter rating for you. To decide on the right rating, you must first determine your indoor air quality (IAQ) needs. For instance, if you suffer from allergies or asthma, you may want a filter with a higher MERV rating to better filter out harmful pollutants such as dust mites and pollen.

To know how to choose a furnace air filter for your needs, also consider where you live, who you live with, and if there are any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause pollution in your home. Common VOCs can include air fresheners, adhesives, and paints. If improving indoor air quality is your focus, consider investing in a whole-house or room air purifier.

Common Types of Air Filters:

The Benefits of Common Filters

  • Fiberglass Filters: These filters tend to be the most budget-friendly and have the lowest MERV ratings (around 1-4). However, since they have a low MERV rating, they aren’t considered the best for improving indoor air quality. Replace these filters monthly for the best results.
  • Pleated Filters: These filters trap smaller airborne particles than fiberglass, including pollutants that can lower indoor air quality, and they have mid-to-high MERV ratings. Deep pleated air filters can be more effective.
  • HEPA Filters: These filters have the highest MERV ratings and can help people with asthma and other respiratory problems. However, HEPA filters are typically used for medical facilities; as such, most residential HVAC systems don’t have the capacity to accommodate these filters.

When to Call an Expert

Knowing how to choose a furnace air filter involves taking a few factors into account, but it’s worth it to have a comfortable and satisfied household.

If you’ve followed our air filter buying guide, bought the right filter for your home and room size, and still experience issues with your HVAC system, that could be because some problems with your heating and air conditioning systems may require a repair or replacement. Contact RR Electric for electric and heating experts you can trust. We offer air purifiers, as well as comprehensive heating and air conditioner services to fit your indoor air quality needs.

Get in touch with us to schedule a heating repair in Ventura today!